Mainstream Misconceptions


Kaiya Cronkhite, Writer/Designer

How did George chew his Thanksgiving dinner?: This one is possibly the most believed misconception regarding the leaders and significant figures of our country. No, it’s not that Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter; it’s about our favorite founding father and the first president of the United States of America, George Washington. This man is interesting in more ways than one. If you fall deep into the rabbit hole of U.S. history, you’ll discover these surprising facts, including that he indeed did not cut down the famous cherry tree. That story was actually made up by an author named Mason Locke Weems. Also, the story of George Washington having wooden teeth is fake as well: he did have fake teeth, but, contrary to popular misconception, they were dentures made of teeth donated from people. Unfortunately, the amusing tale covers up a horrifying truth. Washington’s dentist, Dr. Le Mayeur, was known for putting advertisements out in newspapers, summoning people who were willing to donate two front teeth for two guineas, or 19 pounds. Le Mayeur, was quoted offering discounted rates for slave teeth as well adding a sub note within his advertisement stating “slaves expected.” As noted by Washington’s distant cousin and manager of his estate, Lund Washington, he paid no more than 6 pounds in the transaction, implying the discounted rates from slaves. Recorded in the plantation ledger books for May of 1784, Lund Washington wrote “By Cash pd Negroes for 9 Teeth on Acct of Dr. Lemoire”, which was the name of Washington’s dentist at the time. The idea of wooden teeth could have gotten its origin due to the poor hygiene of soldiers at the time. Often, their teeth would darken in color from all of the rot and nastiness. But, if you knew George Washington or have stumbled down the previously mentioned rabbit hole, you would have learned that Washington was a stickler for cleanliness and order. He frequently wrote in letters that the state of the army was repulsive to him and that he could not stand to live in the filth and disorder.

Mayfly, or super mosquito?: For the last time, mayflies are harmless. I promise they won’t sting you. Mayflies honestly don’t have much purpose; they show up around spring and fall and most don’t really know why.  Beneath the surface, however, Purdue University reveals that “Mayflies constitute one of the most important groups of bottom dwelling animals in streams and rivers around the world” and that mayflies are actually useful in indicating water quality in their ecosystems. Adult mayflies may only live about a day or so but their presence as water nymphs (those weird little fly things you always see around lakes and ponds) are highly beneficial in ecosystems.

Pie, pie and more pie: If you’re from Fort Wayne, you most likely know about Johnny Appleseed, who was actually a real person! What most people don’t know about Johnny Appleseed is that he was one of the original causes of Americans being known for apple pie. Johnny Appleseed’s real name was John Chapman. He toured the frontier as a nurseryman and planted numerous varieties of apple trees across the Midwest. After Johnny Appleseed became part of American folklore, apples became associated with America. The popularity of the actual pie itself however grew when a newly American recipe was published in an American cookbook, American Cookery, shortly after America won its independence. On the other hand, pie has been a tradition in America since the British migrated to North America, spurring our traditions of pumpkin and pecan pie.